Technique and condition

The painting was executed on a single piece of fairly heavy-weight cotton duck canvas, with a double thread in both warp and weave directions, that has been stretched around an expandable softwood stretcher and attached with staples at the rear. The central part of the lower edge of the original canvas was slightly damaged during or before the execution of the painting. As a result, an additional small piece of canvas has been attached to this area to provide the necessary strength for stretching.

The paint appears to be entirely oil paint and was applied over the stretched face of canvas with some drips around the edges (especially the right edge), indicating that at the least some preparatory layers were applied with the canvas horizontal. These layers appear very thin and the capillary action of the canvas threads would have exacerbated the effect. The rest of paint was applied vertically with a brush and in a huge variety of consistencies, from very thick impasto that was applied straight from the tube (possibly even having some medium leached out of it), to extremely thin and fluid dribbles, applied as glazes and scumbles. Much use was made of wet-in-wet technique and there are areas of significant thickness that often consist of a number of paint layers built up on top of each other. However, sometimes just single thin layers exist, through which the canvas weave texture remains very apparent. In the lake and the trees, it is more typical to find many thinned layers applied over each other, and often as glazes, to give a great deal of depth to the image. A very fluid material has been applied late on in the process, which has dribbled down across many of these areas, which could be heavily diluted paint or oil medium, or even a varnish. The overall gloss is very uneven and the degree of opacity / transparency also varies.

There are a number of inscriptions painted on the rear of canvas, indicating that the title was altered on at least two occasions. The current title 'ECHO LAKE' is written in green paint, with Doig's signature and dates in orange beneath this. However, also visible is another orange inscription: 'ECHO (SCREAMING COP)'. This is partially painted over with a brown paint and written elsewhere in black paint is 'SCREAMING COP DRAGENT ECHO'.

The painting is in overall good condition. Despite its slight damage, the canvas is still strong and provides excellent support for the painting. The paint layers appear largely unchanged since their application and, providing the appropriate level of care is maintained, the painting should remain in this condition.

Tom Learner
July 2000